Despite taking the expansion Grand Rapids Griffins to the Eastern Conference quarter-finals of the International Hockey League in their inaugural season, and leading the team to an almost guaranteed playoff berth this year, Dave Allison is now out of a job.
The Fort Frances native was relieved of his coaching duties last Tuesday before the Griffins took on the Manitoba Moose. General manager Bob McNamara will be behind the bench for the rest of the season.
The Griffins, currently in third place in the Northeast division with a 30-25-8 record, are just five points behind the Orlando Solar Bears. A decent record considering Allison was coaching a second-year team which has made several player changes this season.
So the decision to relieve him of his duties at this juncture of the season was particularly puzzling.
“I think the way [McNamara] put it was that we had philosophical differences,” Allison said from his Michigan home Sunday evening. “It’s been a culmination of things. It was a contentious issue.”
Allison was in the final year of his contract with Grand Rapids, and admitted he would be interested in hooking up with another organization for next season.
“Anyone who wants a coach and wants to win [I’m available],” he remarked. “I would be interested in going to a situation that is conducive to winning.”
When asked if he was bitter with the way he was terminated, and the timing of the decision, Allison replied, “I don’t waste time being bitter about anything.”
“Dave was very integral in the early success we had in building this organization and we wish him well in his future endeavours,” McNamara said in a statement. “However, in order for the organization to continue to grow, we felt this move was necessary.
“The process of finding a new coach will begin at the conclusion of the season,” he added.
Allison, 38, was hired as the Griffins’ first head coach June 27, 1996 after splitting the 1995-96 season between the NHL’s Ottawa Senators and their AHL affiliate in Prince Edward Island.
He also has had head coaching stints with Kingston (OHL), Richmond (ECHL), and Albany (AHL).
Allison leaves Grand Rapids with a 70-55-19 regular-season record.